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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of Wisconsin
For Immediate Release
Timothy M. O’Shea, United States Attorney
www.justice.gov/usao-wdwi
Thursday, December 7, 2023

La Crosse Man Sentenced to 7 Years for Firearm Violations

MADISON, Wis. — Timothy M. O’Shea, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Jerel D. Jenkins, 29, of La Crosse, was sentenced today by Chief U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson to seven years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Jenkins pleaded guilty to this charge on Sept. 1.

On April 27, 2022, Jenkins was driving a car in La Crosse with a passenger. An officer saw Jenkins’ car was not displaying proper license plates and attempted a traffic stop. Jenkins sped down an alleyway and jumped from the car, which crashed head-on into a detached garage with the passenger still in it. Jenkins fled and was not apprehended that evening. While responding to the scene, officers found a .380 caliber handgun, with a magazine inserted and loaded, on the ground near the driver-side door of the car. DNA from the trigger guard of the handgun matched Jenkins.

On Oct. 12, 2022, Jenkins was charged federally with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Local law enforcement attempted to arrest Jenkins on several occasions, but he eluded capture, in one instance by driving his car through a detached garage and hitting an occupied squad car.

On Feb.16, officers from multiple local and federal law enforcement agencies coordinated efforts to arrest Jenkins. Officers saw Jenkins leave an apartment and get into an SUV parked in an alleyway. The officers activated their lights and sirens and attempted to box Jenkins’ SUV in the alleyway. Jenkins responded by accelerating toward one end of the alleyway. He hit a dumpster and then a vehicle driven by a Deputy U.S. Marshal. Jenkins hit the vehicle with such force that its airbags deployed, and the Deputy U.S. Marshal was injured. Jenkins was extracted from the SUV and arrested. Two shotguns and ammunition were found in the SUV.

Based on the events surrounding his arrest, Jenkins was charged with illegally possessing the two shotguns and with assaulting a federal officer and causing injury. Jenkins ultimately pleaded guilty to possessing the two shotguns and agreed for the purposes of sentencing that he injured the Deputy U.S. Marshal and possessed the loaded .380 caliber handgun in April 2022.

At sentencing, Judge Peterson concluded that 84 months in prison was necessary to protect the public from Jenkins’ reckless behavior. Judge Peterson noted that Jenkins suffered from substance abuse and mental health issues, but emphasized that Jenkins had an obligation to manage those issues so not to present a danger to the public. Judge Peterson credited Jenkins’ good behavior while he was detained pretrial to encourage him to pursue sobriety and prosocial behavior.

The charges against Jenkins were the result of an investigation conducted by the La Crosse Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anita Marie Boor and Corey Stephan prosecuted this case.

This case has been brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the U.S. Justice Department’s program to reduce violent crime. The PSN approach emphasizes coordination between state and federal prosecutors and all levels of law enforcement to address gun crime, especially felons illegally possessing firearms and ammunition and violent and drug crimes that involve the use of firearms.

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